The featured image is of(2024) of Jimtown High School.
Tuesday evening, November 1, marks the official start of the season, as more than 90 teams around the state open with their first game. With that in mind, I wanted to continue my thorough, multi-article preview spread throughout the next week, looking ahead at each Sectional, the top teams, and preseason all-state teams. I will now transition from Class 2A to Class 3A, beginning with taking a look at the first Class 3A North Regional, which incorporates the winners of Sectional #17 through #20. Below is a look at the teams in each of those Sectionals, along with some general comments and analysis.
(SAG = Final 2021-2022 Multiclass Sagarin Rating (395 teams); SOS = Final 2021-2022 Strength of Schedule)
Highland (18-6), SAG 111, SOS 291
Bishop Noll (12-11), SAG 209, SOS 303
Griffith (16-8), SAG 247, SOS 346
Boone Grove (12-9), SAG 250, SOS 339
Hanover Central (8-12), SAG 271, SOS 294
River Forest (7-17), SAG 327, SOS 334
Calumet New Tech (0-21), SAG 388, SOS 370
The Highland Trojans had a run of Semi-State appearances in the early 2000s, but during the realignment for the 2003-2004 season they were moved to Class 4A and have been there ever since. As they return to Class 3A this season, they do so without the centerpiece of their offense, in graduated front-liner Chloe Churilla (15.2p, 8.3r, 2.1a). She was a strong, physical presence, and their offense ran through her first. Also missing due to the diploma are Lauren Wilson (5.7p, 5.1r) and Zelyah Barajas (2.8p, 3.0r), so a significant amount of rebounding went out the door. However, the Lady Trojans do have a number of nice backcourt weapons. Senior guard(10.4p, 3.7r, 3.3s) is a quick/fast and aggressive scorer who can make shots outside or attack with a burst. 5-7 Junior wing Aaliyah Keil (7.9p, 3.3r, 2.7s) is a long, athletic, gliding wing who has shown a great deal of potential to score in double-figures moving forward. 5-1 Senior point guard Briana Flores (5.3p) gives them a primary ball-handler who initiates the offense and finds open teammates. Additionally, Junior point guard (2.0p) moves in from Lake Central, where she saw a little time on a deep roster. She could have an immediate impact for Highland. They will need 6-0 post Trinity Frazier (2.0p, 2.5r) and 5-9 forward Cailey Belloso (2.0p, 3.1r), both Seniors, to step up and provide a frontcourt presence if they are to match last season’s 18 wins. Following six consecutive seasons with a Sectional title, the Bishop Noll Warriors are just 38-34 over the past three seasons. As they move to Class 3A, they look to compete for the Sectional #17 title with a nice mixture of versatility, experience, and youthful talent. Junior wing (9.8p, 5.8r, 3.1a, 3.1s) leads the charge for the Lady Warriors. Blakely is a versatile, point forward type of small forward. 5-7 Junior wing Tranika Randolph (8.4p, 4.5r) is another athlete on the wing who can play at all three levels. Sophomore forward (6.5p, 6.6r, 2.0s) had an outstanding grassroots season, and I can very easily see her leading Noll in both scoring and rebounding this season. She is a powerful athlete with a nonstop motor. Senior guards Brianna Gonzalez (5.7p, 2.0r) and (2.9p, 3.3r) should add depth on the perimeter. Finding more production up front will be key for a somewhat undersized group.
The Griffith Lady Panthers are in the midst of recovering from the graduation losses of their top four scorers, six of their top seven, and eight Seniors in total. Most notably missing will be Cierra Pipkins (14.1p, 4.6r, 2.3a, 2.7s), Marisa Esquivel (13.5p, 3.2r, 2.6a, 2.8s), Ella Rasberry (9.1p, 5.2r), and Peyton Willis (3.5p, 3.7r). Only two returnees have seen action in more than 15 games, and they are 5-8 Senior forward Chloe Smith (2.3p, 2.2r) and 5-9 Senior forward Alex Strauch. Perhaps 5-6 Sophomore guard Briana Esquivel can help. She saw limited minutes as a Freshman, but she has good skill and the potential to be their leading scorer over the next three seasons. Boone Grove is another program suffering key graduation losses, as their second, third, and fourth leading scorers all left after last season. Key from that 2022 group was point guard Ella Bono (5.2p, 3.2r, 2.1a). However, the Lady Wolves return Senior forward(11.3p, 4.8r), their leading scorer and rebounder from a season ago. She is a multilevel scoring threat, but she will really need to step it up this season for Boone Grove to record double-figure wins once again. Juniors Drew Jeffries (4.2p, 3.8r), a 5-9 wing, and Emily Veschak (4.2p, 2.1r, 2.2s), a 5-5 guard, as well as 5-7 Senior wing Lauren Jeffries (2.0p, 3.2r), all saw significant action last year, and they’ll each need to take on much bigger roles in 2022-2023. Hanover Central is an intriguing group, as they return a great deal of production. They could be one of the top three teams in Sectional #17 this season. 6-0 senior forward Hailey Vanderhye (7.2p, 7.4r, 2.1b) brings a long and athletic frontcourt presence who can make plays anywhere inside of 15-feet. A junior backcourt of 5-8 wing Gabi Comia (7.5p, 5.8r, 2.3s), 5-7 guard Skylar Ferry (4.3p, 2.4r, 2.0a, 2.5s), and 5-4 guard Emmi Doty (3.6p, 2.6r) has already logged a great deal of time over the past two seasons, and they look to lead the Lady Wildcats this season. They’ll need Seniors Reile Waters (2.3p, 2.2r), Abby Kil (2.2p), and Deyton Barnett to add depth and leadership. River Forest could very well improve upon last season, but guard Aiyanie Troutman (11.3p, 4.8r, 2.7a, 2.4s) left via the diploma. 5-5 Senior wing Madison Whitmore (10.9p, 8.0r, 2.2s) and 5-4 Senior guard Abigail Witt (8.3p, 2.0r) do return, and they are a formidable one-two punch for the Ingots. 5-8 Senior forward Ayana Watts (5.4p, 4.9r) and 5-9 Sophomore forward D’Yanna Hurn (3.3p, 5.7r) provide rebounding and interior play for River Forest, while as many as four Freshman could see action early this season. The Calumet Lady Warriors look to get back into the win column this year, and with all of their production eligible to return, they very well could win multiple games if they can find more offense. 5-3 Junior guard Alexis Flores (5.7p, 5.2r), 5-8 Senior forward Bailey Patrick (4.8p, 5.1r), and 5-3 Junior wing Nevaeh Anderson (3.0p, 6.3r, 2.2s) were the top producers for Calumet in 2021-2022.
Knox (14-11), SAG 114, SOS 113
Bremen (16-10), SAG 117, SOS 138
Rochester (16-8), SAG 128, SOS 181
John Glenn (13-10), SAG 139, SOS 110
Tippecanoe Valley (17-8), SAG 148, SOS 177
Culver Academy (13-12), SAG 173, SOS 243
Sectional #18 looks much different than a season ago, as Wheeler has dropped to Class 2A, Kankakee Valley has moved up to Class 4A, and New Prairie has changed Sectionals, leaving only Knox and Culver Academy from last year. The Lady Eagles of Culver Academy were the champs in 2021-2022, but the graduation loss of Taylor Bowen (19.1p, 10.6r, 2.6s) is significant. She is now playing at Division-I Lipscomb University. Graduate Madison Miller (6.3p, 4.0r) will also be missed. Now, the Eagles turn to a pair of Senior wings to lead them.(5.7p, 2.0r) and (4.8p) should both have much bigger offensive seasons as veterans. Craig is an athletic slashing type of scorer who can also defend multiple positions. Bird is a long, fluid forward who can knock down shots outside or in the mid-post. 5-4 Sophomore point guard Reid Seddelmeyer (2.3p) is a nice game manager who really came on late in the year. 6-2 Junior post Jenna Kerr (2.5p, 3.1r) offers some size up front. From there, Culver Academy is excited about the arrival of a number of Freshmen. Most notable of the bunch are guard and wing . Until last season, the Knox ladies had won 20+ games in four straight seasons. Now, they must adjust to the lack of size, as 6-0 forward Megan Bolen (12.6p, 8.4r, 3.3a, 3.0s, 3.5b), 6-0 post Brianna Korcha, and 5-8 forward Madison Moss (7.5p, 5.8r) each accepted their diplomas in the Spring. They do return their backcourt, however, as 5-6 Junior sharp-shooter Morgan Downs (10.6p, 2.1r, 2.3a, 2.0s), Senior wing (7.5p, 4.2r, 3.1a, 2.4s), 5-6 Senior wing Addi Eskridge (8.6p, 3.0r), 5-6 Sophomore guard Portland Minix (2.3), and 5-1 Junior guard Ellah Fairchild (2.2p) all return with significant experience. They’ll have to get creative to make up for their lack of size, but they do have a lot of firepower around the perimeter. Bremen moves up to Class 3A this season, but all-everything wing Ellia Foster (17.5p, 5.2r, 3.5a) is now playing at Bethel University. The Lady Lions also lost a lot of rebounding with the graduations of Madison Youngman (4.5p, 4.2r), Emma Graverson (2.1p, 2.2r), and Jaiden Monhaut (1.4p, 2.6r). The Lions do have a trio of returnees with a great deal of experience. Senior forward (12.0p, 7.5r, 2.2a, 2.5s), 5-5 Sophomore guard Kila Foster (7.1p), and 5-8 Junior wing Mikayla Shively (5.3p, 2.9r, 2.3s) look to lead Bremen this season, but they’ll need to rely on a young and inexperienced supporting cast to fill depth.
Rochester posted a really nice season in 2021-2022, but greatly missed will be forward Alexus Thomas (11.9p, 8.6r, 2.1s). She provided a strong and athletic interior presence, plus she played with a relentless motor. At the same time, the Lady Zebras welcome nearly everyone else back, including a strong Senior class (all of the following girls mentioned are Seniors this year). 5-3 guard Rily Holloway (8.4p, 46 made 3s) is a sharpshooter always hunting shots, 5-3 guard Kallie Watson (4.8p, 2.2r, 2.3a) can run the offense or knock down shots herself, and 5-6 guard Sydney Haughs (3.4p, 4.6r, 2.7a) is another versatile guard who does a little of everything. Welcomed back is the Zebras’ point guard, 5-3 Senior Emma Howdeshell (6.8p, 2.1r, 2.4a, 2.6s in 2020-2021), who made it through four games a season ago before being lost to an injury. She could very well be their leading scorer this season. Powerful 5-8 forward Kennedy Jackson (8.0p, 4.4r) offers Rochester a little size and strength in the interior. John Glenn should again find their way to double-figure wins, but it will take a little more work with the graduation losses of forward Jessie Yelaska (15.5p, 5.6r, 2.2a, 2.4s) and guard Lauren Fansler (9.6p, 2.9r, 3.0a, 2.4s). Back for their Senior seasons, however, are wing(10.8p, 2.8r, 2.4a) and 6-0 post Mia Hooten (9.1p, 8.5r). That tandem is good enough to win a few games by themselves. Ultimately, though, they’ll need help. Sophomore forward (3.9p, 3.7r in 7 games) got off to a solid start as a rookie, but she missed the final two-thirds of the season. Juniors Sophia Romer (2.3p, 2.7r), a 5-8 wing, and Keelyn Bradley (1.2p, 2.6r), a front-liner, have quite a bit of experience as well and can provide solid frontcourt depth. The key will be whether or not the Lady Falcons can find backcourt production this year. Tippecanoe Valley won’t struggle for guard play, as Senior (17.4p, 5.0r, 2.5s) returns to lead the Lady Vikings for another year. She is a natural scorer with touch from all three levels. 5-3 Senior point guard Molly Moriarty (7.5p, 2.2r, 3.2a, 3.0s) helps Mellott in the backcourt, while 6-0 Senior forward Corinna Stiles (9.0p, 9.5r, 2.3a, 2.5s) is an inside-out threat who can help at all levels. 5-5 Senior wing Lily Ault (4.6p) and 5-3 Junior guard Chesnee Miller (2.1p, 2.6r, 2.7s) add even more depth and experience to the perimeter, while 5-6 Junior forward Ava Smith (1.7p, 2.2r) and 6-0 Sophomore forward Carlee Snyder (1.4p, 3.1r) provide a presence around the paint. The Lady Vikings also welcome Rochester transfer Amelia Scorsone (7.9p, 5.5r), a powerful 6-1 Senior post who will help plug the middle for them immediately.
Mishawaka Marian (20-6), SAG 26, SOS 59
South Bend St. Joseph (15-10), SAG 102, SOS 78
New Prairie (11-12), SAG 166, SOS 139
Jimtown (4-18), SAG 310, SOS 173
South Bend Clay (3-18), SAG 334, SOS 184
Everyone in Sectional #19 was finally able to exhale, as South Bend Washington moved up to Class 4A due to their success. Once again, Mishawaka Marian is back in the role of being the favorite (you can see their team preview here). South Bend St. Joseph looks to compete for a Sectional #19 title as well, but they must do so without graduated guard Kelly Ratigan (23.3p, 3.5r, 5.1a). She was big-time for them the last couple of seasons, but she is now playing at Division-I Loyola University Maryland. Forward Haley West (7.1p, 3.3r) was another key loss for the Lady Indians. Back in the fold, however, is Senior forward (12.2p, 6.3r, 2.5s). She is an athletic inside-out threat who can rebound, defend, and score the ball from all three levels. She could immediately be the team’s focal point in 2022-2023. 5-4 Senior guard Tahjlyn Casares (7.4p, 4.5r) is another experienced veteran who should up her production in her final season. 5-7 Senior wing Lauren Harrington (3.0r), 5-4 Junior guard Lainey Eder, and 5-5 Sophomore guard Alexa Langager all saw limited minutes a year ago, but they, combined with a number of Freshmen prospects, should help round out the remainder of the rotation this year. New Prairie brings back a great deal of production, so they too should be in contention for the Sectional #19 crown. Senior guard (11.5p, 3.0r, 2.5a, 2.2s) and Junior point guard (11.0p, 3.1r, 2.7a) form a very capable and skillful backcourt duo. They can knock down shots outside or get to the basket, plus both can initiate the offense. Junior forward (7.4p, 4.7r, 2.5a) is a versatile forward who can play on the wing, in the mid-post, and who can battle inside when necessary. Senior forward Jaiden Winters (3.3p, 2.9r) is a defender/rebounder type who does a nice job of screening within their offense. Missed most is Maddie McSurley (9.4p, 9.8r, 3.3a). She was a major presence around the paint for them, and they’ll need to replace her contributions immediately. Jimtown is solid defensively, but they need to find more offense in order to approach ten wins. They do, however, have one of the best Junior guards in the state in (12.7p, 5.0r, 2.2s). She is a talented athlete who has really developed her skillset over the years. 5-7 Junior wing Abby Brown (5.5p, 4.2r), 5-9 Sophomore forward Natalie Butler (4.9p, 4.5r), and 5-6 Sophomore guard Kendal McPhee (1.5p, 3.3r) have shown some promise and should step up even more this season. South Bend Clay will look to better their record, and to do so they’ll need to rely on 5-4 Senior guard Ah’liah Watson. A couple of younger players who could be key in the future of Colonial basketball are Sophomore front-liner and Freshman wing Kayanna Ellis.
Fairfield (24-4), SAG 60, SOS 165
Wawasee (11-12), SAG 135, SOS 143
Lakeland (11-12), SAG 170, SOS 163
West Noble (7-18) SAG 229, SOS 150
NorthWood (3-22), SAG 233, SOS 61
Fairfield is up to Class 3A from Class 2A this season, and they are a solid favorite to win Sectional #20 this year. They were under heavy consideration to make the Class 3A Preseason Top-10. Senior forward(15.8p, 5.6r, 2.7a, 3.1s) is the focal point of the Falcons. She has nice size, length, and athleticism, plus she’s highly skilled at all three levels. She is committed to play at Indiana Wesleyan University next season. Fairfield will be without graduated guard Brooke Sanchez, who was also a key to their success in 2021-2022, but she was unfortunately injured during their tournament run. 5-5 guard Bailey Willard and 5-7 wing Morgan Gawthrop are a pair of Seniors who will bring leadership to the perimeter, while 5-6 Junior guard Kaylee Dillon has seen her share of minutes over the past couple of seasons. Size and interior play is a question mark once you get past Garber, but the Lady Falcons are excited about the arrival of 5-10 Freshman wing Eva Herbert. She is a capable shooter who glides around the floor, plus she has some ball skill and can play a point forward role. Whether Wawasee will be rebuilding or reloading this year depends upon how many of their younger players from a year ago find traction early this season. Why? Well, the Lady Warriors graduated their top five scorers from the 2021-2022 season in Kennedy White (9.6p, 4.4r, 2.4a, 2.9s), Lindsay Doss (9.0p, 3.0r), Jada Carter (8.2p, 3.0r, 2.2a), Emily Haines (7.5p, 3.4r, 2.0a), and Becca Smith (5.4p, 5.6r). The two ladies who played significant minutes in a supporting role last year are Sophomore (3.9p, 3.5r) and Junior Kaydence Shepherd (2.7p). They will look to step into leadership roles this season. Whoever comes along with them will be figured out early this season.
The Lakeland Lakers finished below .500 a season ago, but I don’t expect that to be the case in 2022-2023. With the Senior trio of 5-7 wing(15.3p, 6.3r, 3.1s), 5-6 guard (14.1p, 4.7r, 2.5a, 2.8s), and 5-6 guard Alivia Rasler (8.3p, 5.5r, 2.7a, 2.4s) back in the lineup, they have a three-headed monster on the perimeter that will be tough for opponents to defend. Kayla Poole (7.7p, 4.8r) did graduate, but Sophomore post Cara Schackow (3.1p) and 5-8 Senior forward Grace Iddings (2.3p, 2.9r) saw quality minutes a season ago. Freshmen Katelyn Ryan, a 5-8 forward, and Dulce Canedo, a 5-3 guard, could see opportunity sooner rather than later this season. Last year was the first time West Noble didn’t win at least ten games since the 2010-2011 season. If they are to return to double-figure victories, they’ll have to do so without graduates Jazmyn Smith (17.1p, 6.8r), Shey Torres (3.7p, 4.4, 2.1a), Maddie Bottles (2.7p, 2.0r), Sara Gross (2.3p, 2.1r), plus five additional 2022 grads. Senior guard (10.3p, 3.0r, 3.0s) offers some hope, but she’ll need to significantly increase her production for the Lady Chargers to win consistently this season. Juniors Alexia Mast (3.4p), a 5-2 guard, and Alayna DeLong (2.6p, 4.7r), a 5-10 post, are the only two other players in the program with any real experience. Just a couple of years removed from a Class 3A State Championship, and the Black Swish of NorthWood are just 6-36 over that span. There is nowhere to go but up for the Black Swish, and they start by returning everyone from their core rotation of a year ago. 5-6 Junior guard Joselyn Edwards (9.0p, 2.5r), 5-9 Junior wing Karis Bennett (6.2p, 3.0r, 2.0s), 6-1 Sophomore post Claire Payne (5.3p, 9.6r, 2.6b), 5-9 Sophomore forward Brooklynn Redd (4.1p, 3.8r), 5-7 Senior wing Kailey Martin (3.4p, 2.7r), and 5-9 Senior forward Aaliyah Bonner (2.2p, 4.3r) all return for NorthWood. Every one of them saw action in 21 or more games, and that experience should excite their new coach. Payne could be a real difference maker in her second season. Those six, along with Freshman Aaniyah Bonner, should again make up the core for the Black Swish.